What is a motion to revoke probation (MTR) in Texas?

A motion to revoke probation (MTR) in Texas is how prosecutors send you to jail if you break the rules of probation. The MTR tells the judge what rules you broke while you are on probation. Worse yet, the MTR asks the judge to pull your probation and send you to jail. Finally, an MTR will cause the judge to issue a warrant for your arrest.

Equally important, judges consider probation violations to be a big deal. This is because probation is a chance to stay out of jail. In particular, if you take a plea deal or if a jury finds you guilty of a crime, then a judge may give you probation instead of sending you to jail. And in return for staying out of jail, the person promises the judge that he or she will follow the rules of probation.

But life happens too. And sometimes people fall short of meeting expectations. As a result, this post will walk you through the MTR process and give you a roadmap of what to expect. And the first question we will answer is this: Can I bond out on an MTR?

Can I get a bond on an Motion to revoke probation in Texas?

Yes. But it will depend on the judge. Tex. Code of Crim. Proc. art. 42A.751(c) states that “only the judge who ordered the arrest for the alleged [MTR] violation may authorize the defendant’s release on bond.” So the first thing to do is call the felony court, misdemeanor court, or the jail to see if the judge set a bond in the case.

When you call the court, make sure to have the persons’ case number, SID number, or DOB. The clerk or bailiff will need this information to look up the person’s case. Or you can talk to a lawyer to help you with this search. But the lawyer will still need this information to look up the case.

If there is a bond set, then you can hire a bond company to post the bond and bailout the person. This is the best case scenario because can use the satellite office at the courthouse to bond out. In short, the satellite office is a quick and easy way to turn yourself in, get booked, and get the warrant pulled.

On the other hand, the judge may remand you without bond (R.W.O.B.). In other words, the judge sets no bond. Accordingly, the person must wait in jail until the MTR hearing. If this happens, then your lawyer can ask the to judge to set a bond in your case.

This is where cases start to vary. Many judges will set a bond if you ask them to. But others will not. So your case will turn on the luck of the draw, i.e., the judge in your case.

Can you fight a motion to revoke probation in Texas?

Yes. The MTR is an important document. It tells the person exactly what he did wrong while he was on probation. However, if a person does not agree with the violations in the MTR, then he can fight them at an MTR hearing. Here is how to do that.

During the MTR hearing, the judge will ask the person if the violations in the MTR are “True” or “Not True.” If the person wants to fight the MTR, then he should plead “Not True.” This tells the judge you want to fight the MTR.

On the other hand, if the violations are correct, then the person should plead “True” to the violations. This tells the judge you do not want to fight the MTR. From there, the judge will give both sides a chance to speak and then the court will decide what to do about the violations.

What happens at a contested Motion to Revoke hearing in Texas?

If the person says the violations are “Not True,” then the judge will set the case for a contested hearing. This requires the State to prove the person broke the rules of probation. At the same time, the person can challenge the proof and show why the MTR is not true.

At the end of the hearing, the judge will decide if the allegations are true or not true. If they are not true, then the judge will deny the MTR and continue the person on probation. But if the violations are true, then the judge has several options. We list them below.

What will a judge do if I break the rules of probation in Texas?

If the judge decides that the violations in the MTR are true, then he has five options. He can:

  1. Continue the probation. In other words, nothing changes. And the person stays on probation;
  2. Extend the probation. The judge adds more time to the original probation term;
  3. Modify the probation. The judge can add or change the terms of the probation;
  4. Revoke the probation. The judge ends the probation and sends the person to jail; or
  5. Terminate the probation: The judge ends the probation without sending the person to jail. (You need a really good reason for this option.)

The final decision will depend on the judge. And this is where it becomes hard to predict what a judge will do in any case. Stated differently, some judges are more lenient than others.

In addition, the judge will consider several factors before he makes a decision. These factors include the person’s criminal history, what the person did while on probation, and the type of case he is on probation for. For these reasons, you should talk with an attorney that practices regularly before the judge your case is set in. Your lawyer can give you a general idea of what to expect.

What are the 3 types of probation in Texas.

There are three types of probation in Texas. They are:

  1. Deferred Adjudication Probation: The judge does not find the person guilty of the crime. Instead, the judge places the person on probation. If the person completes the probation term, then the judge will dismiss the case;
  2. “Straight” Probation: The judge finds the person guilty of the crime, but does not send him to jail. Rather, the judge places the person on probation. If the person completes the probation, then the judge will not send him to jail but the person will still get a conviction on his record; and
  3. “Shock” Probation: The judge sends the person to jail to start serving his sentence. However, Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Art. 42A.201 & 42A.202 allow the defendant to ask the judge to stop the jail term and put him on regular probation. These cases are called shock probation.

Further, the type of probation the person is on matters.

If a person is on deferred probation, then the judge can send him to jail for up to the maximum jail term allowed by law. As an example, if a person is on two (2) years deferred probation for a second degree felony, then the judge can send him to jail for up to 20 years if the person breaks probation.

Conversely, if a person is on straight probation for 2 years on a second-degree felony with an underlying sentence of 5 years, then the most jail time the judge can give the person is 5 years. This is because the judge set the jail time at 5 years up front. But instead of sending him to jail, the judge put him on probation.

Can you ask the prosecutor to withdraw a motion to revoke probation in Texas?

Surprisingly, the answer is yes. By that I mean you can ask the prosecutor to pull the MTR and continue the person on probation. Some prosecutors and judges are open to this option. But it is not guaranteed. And it will depend on your case and what you did or did not do while you are on probation.

Further, in many cases this is a good way to work out an MTR violation. Instead of having a hearing, you ask the prosecutor to withdraw the MTR and you agree to do extra classes, community service hours, or programs while on probation.

What are the most common probation violations in Texas?

The most common probation violations in Texas are:

  1. testing dirty for drugs (very common to get dirty UAs in MTR possession cases);
  2. failing to report to a probation officer;
  3. getting arrested for a new crime;
  4. failing to complete community service hours; and
  5. not paying fines, fees, and court costs.

What happens if I get a first-time probation violation in Texas?

The type of mistake or probation violation is what matters most. In other words, how bad did you foul up?

For instance, if the person is on probation for selling drugs and gets arrested again for selling drugs, then this will be a tough case to work out. On the other hand, if the person is on probation for simple possession, and gets an MTR for not completing community service hours, then it is more likely the person will avoid serving jail time.

Equally important, the judge and the State will also look to see what the person did while he or she was on probation. The more positive things the person has done on probation, then the more likely it is the judge will keep him on probation.

Positive things on probation include completing drug classes, paying fines and court costs, and reporting to your probation officer. In short, with probation violations, you are at the mercy of the judge. And the more positive things you did while you were on probation can help you get leniency.

What is your advice for someone on probation in Texas?

The best MTR option is to get off probation as quickly as possible.

This means you must take control of your case by completing all the classes and community service hours in your case. You must also pay the fines, court costs, and fees. The quicker you do this, the better off you will be.

For instance, if you finish early, then your MTR lawyer can ask the judge to end your community supervision early. Notably, if you are on deferred adjudication probation, you can file this motion at anytime. Critically, you should file this request as soon as you complete the probation terms.

Likewise, if you are on regular or shock probation, then you can ask for early termination. But there is a waiting period. Specifically, you can file the motion for early termination after you complete 1/3 of the term or 2 years–whichever term is less.

The reason for this advice is straight forward. The longer you are on probation, then the more time there is for something to go wrong. Maybe your car breaks down and you cannot report to probation. Or you lose your job and cannot pay for the classes, fines, or court costs. Even worse, you have a moment of weakness and use drugs.

In each of these cases, you are opening the door for the State to file an MTR. However, by getting off probation as quickly as possible, then you shorten the window for bad things to happen.

San Antonio Motion to Revoke Lawyer Genaro R. Cortez.

Genaro R. Cortez is an MTR Defense lawyer in San Antonio, Texas. He’s handled hundreds of felony and misdemeanor motions to revoke probation cases in Texas. His MTR defense experience includes helping people stay on probation as well as getting clients off probation early.

If you have an MTR, then call 210-733-7575. We offer free case consultations.